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The Top Five Recruiting Classes in the Gundy Era in Hindsight

A look at the three stars Gundy turned into four stars.



No matter where you stand on Mike Gundy’s recruiting ability, his classes almost always look better given hindsight.

Throughout Gundy’s 16-year tenure at Oklahoma State, he has become known for plucking lesser known talents and turning them into All-Big 12 guys. So, with the power of hindsight, let us look back at Gundy’s top five classes.

Note: I didn’t include and classes from 2016 to 2021 because the jury is still out on those groups, but I will give 2016 some love in the honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions: 2011 and 2016

Mike Gundy’s 2016 class needs a little more time to cook, but it could end up high on this list depending on how guys like Rodarius Williams, Teven Jenkins, Dillon Stoner and Amen Ogbongbemiga do at the next level. That class has already put Justice Hill and A.J. Green in the League.

Gundy’s 2011 class was just missing that guy. It was a solid group with JW Walsh, Josh Stewart, Desmond Roland, Jimmy Bean, Alex Elkins, James Castleman, David Glidden and others. But, none of those guys ended up starring at the next level like guys from these other classes. Herschel Sims was supposed to be that guy from this group, being the No. 61 player in the class, but the hindsight part of this list didn’t work out as well for him.

5. 2013

The Dudes: Marcell Ateman, Vincent Taylor, Jordan Sterns, Zach Crabtree and Ben Grogan

National Rank: 31

Big 12 Rank: 5

Breakdown: Gundy’s 2013 class includes the leading scorer in program history in Ben Grogan. Grogan finished his career with 433 total points, 63 more than second-place Dan Bailey. Jordan Sterns and Zach Crabtree were also two-time All-Big 12 selections.

Marcell Ateman finished his OSU career with 2,466 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns before playing the 2018 and 2019 NFL seasons with the Raiders, where he has a career 270 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Vincent Taylor played in 34 games on the interior of OSU’s defensive line and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2016. He finished his OSU career with 112 total tackles, 23 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. He was taken in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He is in his fourth season in the League, having made stops at Miami, Buffalo and Cleveland.

4. 2006

The Dudes: Russell Okung, Dantrell Savage, Perrish Cox, Orie Lemon and Keith Toston

National Rank: 18

Big 12 Rank: 4

Breakdown: Russell Okung was the lowest-ranked recruit of those guys above, but he has been the most successful. Okung was a unanimous All-American in 2009. He went sixth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. That’s the second highest a Gundy player has gone, trailing Justin Blackmon. He is still in the NFL, having started 131 games between 2010 and 2020.

But it doesn’t stop there with this group. Perrish Cox was a two-time All-American at OSU, being selected as a returner in 2008 and a corner in 2009. He had 10 interceptions in Stillwater and six return touchdowns. He was taken in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He had a six-year pro career, where he had 10 interceptions.

3. 2014

The Dudes: Mason Rudolph, James Washington, Tyreek Hill, Jordan Brailford, Chris Lacy and Justin Phillips

National Rank: 27

Big 12 Rank: 4

Breakdown: This class probably ranks over the other for me because quarterbacks and receivers are more flashy than offensive linemen and corners. This group also has a little more in terms of quantity that might make up for some quality.

Mason Rudolph and James Washington were each All-Americans in 2017, the same season Washington won the Biletnikoff and Rudolph won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm.

Rudolph is the program leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, TDs responsible for and total offensive yards. Washington is the program’s career leader in receiving yards.

The duo each got drafted to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where they recently finished their second seasons.

The class also housed Tyreek Hill, a controversial figure as to whether OSU claims him or doesn’t because he was booted from the team after an timeline-altering punt return.

Hill has gone on to become arguably the most dynamic player in the NFL. He is a Super Bowl champion, a five-time Pro Bowler and a two-time first-team All-Pro receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs.

2. 2008

The Dudes: Justin Blackmon, Markelle Martin, Lane Taylor, Quinn Sharp, Beau Johnson and Kye Staley

National Rank: 32

Big 12 Rank: 5

Breakdown: Hindsight is a weird deal with Justin Blackmon. An unheralded recruit, Blackmon became the best receiver in college football history before his pro career fell apart.

Blackmon was a two-time Biletnikoff winner and a two-time All-American receiver. The Jaguars took him fifth overall in 2012, the highest a Gundy player has ever been taken. He was also good in his 20-game NFL career, catching 93 passes for 1,280 yards and six touchdowns. He made the NFL’s All-Rookie team in 2012.

That 2008 class also included All-American safety Markelle Martin, who had 179 tackles and three INTs in his OSU career.

It also included kicker/punter Quinn Sharp, who is one of two three-time All-Americans in program history alongside Thurman Thomas.

Less appreciated than those guys was Lane Taylor, the No. 906 prospect of that class. Taylor picked up an All-Big 12 first team selection in 2012 and has been with the Green Bay Packers since leaving OSU.

1. 2007

The Dudes: Brandon Weeden, Dez Bryant, Kendall Hunter, Dan Bailey, Richetti Jones, Jamie Blatnick and Josh Cooper

National Rank: 25

Big 12 Rank: 4

Breakdown: This list was hard to make, but this top spot seems undisputed.

Brandon Weeden wasn’t even listed on 247s list thanks to his roundabout path to OSU from professional baseball, but he enrolled at OSU in 2007. He went onto lead the Cowboys to their only conference title under Gundy and a Fiesta Bowl victory. He is second to Rudolph on OSU’s career passing yards and touchdowns list, but most put him ahead of Rudolph as the greatest QB in program history thanks to his Big 12 title and 2011 season in general.

Dez Bryant’s time at OSU was short but impactful. He was a consensus first-team All-American as a sophomore in 2008. In 28 games with the Pokes, Bryant caught 147 passes for 2,425 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also housed three punts.

Like Weeden, Bryant was a first-round NFL Draft pick. Bryant went 24th overall to the Dallas Cowboys. He has been to three Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro in 2014.

But wait, there is more. Kendall Hunter was a two-time All-American at OSU, finishing his college career with 4,181 rushing yards and 37 touchdowns. He was a fourth-round draft pick and spent five seasons in the NFL, running for 1,204 yards and seven touchdowns.

Then there was All-American kicker Dan Bailey, who scored 370 points in his college career before starting what has become a 10-year NFL career.

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